16/01/2017 - 11:15

The truth about Cyber Security

16/01/2017 - 11:15


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The truth about Cyber Security
Cyber Security

The truth about Cyber Security is scary. Some would even say horrifying! You've probably seen it on TV… those worrying reports about cyber attacks on large companies. Here in Australia, big companies like Woolworths, David Jones, Kmart and Vodafone have had their data stolen by cyber thieves. Government departments have been hit too. What we DON'T hear about is what is happening to smaller businesses.

Cyber criminals are getting into their information systems and doing very real damage. Real and costly. Either stealing their intellectual property or their client data. In some cases, that includes their clients' bank account details. Ouch! 

Take ransomware, for example. The crooks install ransomware on one of your computers. And since your work computers are probably all interconnected, the infection quickly spreads through the network. Then they send you a message saying you have to pay some huge amount to get them to unlock your computer files. 

It's digital blackmail.

Even when you pay, you don't always get access to your data again. Sometimes you lose your files and your money. 


How often does that happen? On March 11th this year, the Sydney Morning Herald reported "tens of thousands" of computers in Australia were infected with ransomware. 

Trend Micro have reported over one million ransomware infections in the first half of 2016 with over 224,000 in just the two months of April and May. 

Over 90% of all malware infections and ransomware attacks start when a user clicks on a harmless-looking email or website link. In the background, a small script or program starts to download onto that person's computer. 

In the past year, nearly one third of Australian companies have been breached by one kind of cyber attack or another, including ransomware but also plain old data theft. Just how widespread cyber crime is now was brought to light in an [article] by CIO, titled "Cyber attacks have hit most Australian companies".

What's the cost of this plague on Australian businesses? According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, each infection costs the business around $15,000 to recover their data. 

Like I say… scary!

The very big question becomes:


Is there anything you can do?

Yes, there is. 

You can harden your business against cyber crime.

One simple early step is to require all your staff to have long passwords that include numbers and other non-alphabet characters. And you can educate them to be super careful about clicking on links. 

But there is much more that companies can do. Which is why it makes sense to undertake an [IT vulnerability test]. Qbit says their IT audit is like a health check for your computer network. And it's free.


In Australia, the digital economy is already worth $79 billion and it keeps on growing. 

Considering the colossal damage that cyber crime wreaks on its victims, it makes good commercial sense to adopt and enforce a strong policy. 

As your Mum used to say, prevention is better than cure. 


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